We could probably talk to Kaan Bergsen about many things. A young entrepreneur with a distinct style, lover and refurbisher of classic cars, and traditional mixology student with a trained palate, he is also the founder of Petra Roasting & Co. in Istanbul and the winner of fourth place at this year’s world roasting championship at the World Coffee Event, held in Rimini. Here, we narrow our scope and talk to this passionate man about his Petra and all things coffee.
"I always wanted to get into the food and beverage industry, but I specifically wanted to go into the beverage side. When it comes to lezzet (taste, the combination of flavors and aromas), beverages have more to offer than food. Which one has more flavor, the best steak in the world, or the best wine? From the perspective of a professional taster, wine has so much more. Just like wine, coffee also has that complexity of flavor."
What sets Petra apart from all the other coffee places in Istanbul?
Petra is not just a coffee house, it’s a roasting company. We are not focused just on the cup but on the coffee beans themselves. However, my palate is specialized over cocktails, over a Manhattan for example. I have been approaching coffee with a similar sensibility. The elements of Petra coffee can be likened to a serious cocktail bar. There you can actually add lemon juice and sugar to the world’s best whisky. What we’re trying to establish is making the best coffee, that’s first, and then turn it into the most delicious product it can be. The protocol of how to use and serve specific glasses, the kind of communication you need to build with the customer, all this is the ‘bar protocol’ of Petra. The service you get is that of a cocktail bar, but the beverage you order is coffee.
The trend for a while has been to mention single-origins, how do Petra’s coffees differ?
Because our primary aim has been to build our roasting company, we do our own importing and never buy coffee from Turkish importers. For some beans, I actually travel to their country of origin and buy directly from producers, and for some other countries there are a few large wholesalers in Europe and in the United States that I work with. The difference I have is that, when I go, I actually taste the coffee, and then make my decision to buy. A lot of people hear that Kenyan coffee is good, and then decide to import it without ever tasting it, by just looking at prices. It’s kind of like buying a wine by looking at its name, the bottle’s design, and its price, but if you don’t know nor have tasted the wine, then you really don’t know what that it’s like. Most roasters in Turkey do similar things, they don’t ask for samples, they just order in and roast.
When coffee lovers visit Petra, what can they expect to taste?
Our coffees are, naturally, 100% Arabica. A coffee rated 80 over 100 by specific coffee tasters, called Q tasters, is qualified as specialty. A specialty coffee with a rating over 90 makes you cry of joy, literally. Petra’s coffees are in this category, and we are members of the Specialty Coffee Association of America and Europe.
We have three coffees at Petra since its setup. The Ethiopian beans are from the region of Sidamo, one of the main regions of coffee producers. Then we have a Colombian batch from the region of San Agustin, and the third one is of Brazilian origin, which actually ended up being very compatible with the Turkish palate. I make a mixed ichor batch for espresso, but the filtered coffees are all single-origin.